Marine experts have advised swimmers to avoid early morning and dusk dips in Sydney Harbour following a shocking shark attack on an eastern suburbs woman.
Elizabeth Bay woman Lauren O’Neill was swimming near a private wharf where neighbours said she had recently bought an apartment when she was bitten on the right leg by a bull shark.
The woman is taken to hospital. Image: On Scene Bondi.
The NSW Department of Primary Industries confirmed the species responsible on Tuesday morning.
“Each shark has a distinct bite pattern, and we can look at the spacing of the teeth and the nature of the bite pattern,” Dr Amy Smoothy said, “and based on our investigation of the images provided to us, we can confirm that the species involved was a bull shark.”
The terrifying incident has raised questions about why Ms O’Neill was swimming in the harbour as night fell, when Sydney Harbour is thriving with shark species.
Shark victim Lauren O’Neill and eye-witness Michael Porter. Image: NCA/NewsWire.
Michael Porter, who helped rescue Ms O’Neill, told reporters he heard a “soft yell” for help outside his window around 8 pm on Monday.
He looked outside to see her, hanging on to a ladder on the wharf in Elizabeth Bay.
“She was trying to climb in, and behind her was her leg, which was completely open and full of dark red blood behind her,” Mr Porter said.
He credited the “heroic” effort of fellow neighbour Fiona, a vet who bandaged Ms O’Neill’s wounds.
“Fiona is an absolute hero. I believe she saved her life,” he said.
“Everyone worked together to make sure she was all right. She was extremely brave.
“It’s incredible how lucid Lauren was throughout the whole thing.”
One witness told the SMH she regularly sees sharks swimming under the jetty.
“I always thought it was a matter of time,” she said.
Bull sharks are more active during low light levels, especially at dawn and dusk.
Bull sharks are a tropical species that travel from Queensland in the warm months to utilise east coast waterways when the temperature is above 20 degrees.
Tagging and tracking over the past 15 years has revealed the apex predators use all areas of the harbour, from Parramatta and Lane Cove rivers to Middle and North Harbour.
“Bull sharks are more active during low light levels, especially at dawn and dusk,” Dr Smoothy said.
“We know they occupy deeper water during the day and come out of the deeper holes into shallow areas during the evening, so we advise avoiding areas adjacent to steep drop-offs.”